The best part of summer is to be able to enjoy the water. Whether it be the pool, the lake, at the campground, or with your home outdoor shower you will want to make some preparations.
Portable Outdoor Shower
The most basic question is do you want the shower to be portable or stationary? Portable showers are great for camping, the pool, and even the landscape. They are much less expensive and are often made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride). PVC is weather resistant, light, and durable. That’s why it is used for outdoor water systems (i.e. sprinklers, sewers, and culinary and secondary water) and lasts for years. Schedule 40 is a strong grade of PVC that most people use. You will not want to buy a lower grade such as schedule 110. If you want ultimate in strength, go for schedule 80. Schedule 80 is gray, instead of white, and extremely sturdy.
The size of the pipe also matters. The larger the pipe diameter the stronger the pipe will be. The other great advantage of larger pipes is that they have more water pressure and that means you will get a better shower. Most indoor showers use a half inch pipe. For outdoor showers, it is a good idea to use one inch or three quarter inch pipe. According to Nathan Hale, master plumber at Plumbers Plus, PVC is the ideal choice for outdoor environments due to its low cost, high strength, and durability.
Stationary Outdoor Shower
A common stationary outdoor shower is cemented right into the pool deck. Stationary showers will often cost a lot more money due to increased installation cost and using metal materials. You can spend thousands on one of these showers. What you are mostly paying for is a nice looking exterior to hide the pipe. For example, some outdoor showers have a stainless steel exterior surrounding the piping. A lot of people don’t think a pipe looks bad and can build the stationary shower for a much more reasonable price.
It is easy to make the stationary outdoor shower have hot water. You simply punch a hole in the side of the house and run the line to wherever you want the shower to be. The farther you put the shower away from the home, the more expensive it will be.
A cold shower can be plumbed right into the sprinkler system for a very low cost. If you have hose bibs around the yard, that would be a good place to get access to the water. You can always add an additional water heater for the shower, but most people can not justify the cost. Should you decide to do this, consider an outdoor tankless water heater (Bosch and Rheem are good choices). You can expect to pay around $600.00-$1000.00 for one of these water heaters. According to the outdoor shower institute, “Hot showers are not a staple of the residential home market”. Inexpensive pool showers, on the other hand, have surged in popularity.
Drainage Outdoor Shower
You should first decide how often the shower will be used. The occasional shower in the hot summer months is no big deal. In this case, it doesn’t matter a whole lot what you do. You might use an old pallet to get you off the ground or simply shower on the pool deck. The extra water will be quickly evaporated off or water some plants.
However, if you are showering outside a lot, you will need a drainage system. A very popular choice is to dig a hole and fill it with gravel. For example, a five foot diameter hole filled with gravel would provide a place for the water to go. You can purchase plastic containers that go into the ground and make the job a little easier. You might check a local pond store. Since flagstone sets well in gravel, it is a popular way to finish off the project. The hole will go directly under your feet. Should you need more drainage than this, you can install a French Drain or tie it into the home sewer system. Should you install a cement floor, the idea is the same except that you will install a drain and slope the concrete appropriately.
The best enclosures are romantic and fun. You should allow free flowing air to come through the structure to help keep the ground dry and to make it more fun. The materials used for the enclosures are similar to fencing. You can use high quality wood (recommended) or vinyl. Another popular choice is glass blocks.
If you are worried about being seen naked, simply shower with your bathing suit on. If you tightly enclose the outdoor shower, it is about the same as being indoors and takes out a good bit of the fun. With that being said, be smart about the location. You don’t want to put it under your neighbor’s second story window.